Background Personal construct theory (PCT) is a constructivist approach to understanding human thought and action. Preliminary research focusing on applying PCT concepts and methodologies to understanding individuals with high-functioning autism (HFA) has suggested its utility for both research and clinical interventions. The developmental period of adolescence has also been outlined according to PCT. However, PCT has not been applied to the more specific subgroup of adolescents with HFA, despite various theoretical tenets suggesting its utility.
Conclusions In addressing this research gap, we considered the following adolescent developmental tasks with particular reference to adolescents with HFA: (a) functioning within the increasingly complex world of adulthood, (b) identity development, and (c) development of higher order processing styles (including abstract thinking and flexible processing). These issues were described using PCT concepts. Finally, we considered ways to support individuals and families living with adolescents with HFA.